Newcastle Benfield 0-0 West Auckland Town: (West win 4-3 on penalties)
West Auckland Town won the Mitre Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup following a dramatic penalty shootout victory against Newcastle Benfield at Seaham’s Ferguson Motor Repairs Stadium.
After an uneventful 90 minutes, Ross Colquhoun struck the decisive spot-kick as Gary Forrest’s side ended a 56-year wait to clinch their third League Cup title in the club’s history.
Shane Bland produced two sensational saves in the shootout to deny Reece Noble and substitute Dean Holmes as Benfield inadvertently repeated their 2013 final loss to Spennymoor Town.
Stuart Elliott’s side overcame Birtley Town, West Allotment Celtic, Chester-Le-Street and Whitley Bay while West saw off last season’s champions Dunston UTS, Thornaby, Tow Law Town and Stockton Town, looking to avenge their defeat to Team Northumbria at the same stage seven years ago.
Forrest made just the one change from the final league game of the season against the Anchors as Liam Hegarty replaced Colquhoun.
In glorious conditions at Seaham, it was an anxious start from both sides with neither able to grab the early momentum.
The first chance didn’t arrive until the 21st minute when a free-flowing one-two between Steven Snaith and Adam Mitchell resulted in the latter hitting a right-footed shot just past the far post.
As the first-half began to draw to a close, Amar Purewal was left unmarked inside the area and guided his header high over the bar following an awe-inspiring delivery from Snaith.
However, just a few moments later, West survived a brief scare when Jake Orrell rattled the bar with a thumping strike as Benfield started to grow in confidence.
Within two minutes of getting back underway, Forrest’s side carved out a dangerous opportunity as some neat play between Hegarty and Mitchell enabled Snaith to find space on the edge of the box, only to hook his effort narrowly over Andrew Grainger’s goal.
The Lions responded with a fearsome drive a few yards out from Paul Brayson, who stung the palms of Shane Bland before diverting it to safety.
And on 69 minutes, Bland had to be alert once more to deny the forward and pulled off a tremendous save to tip it over the bar after it had taken a slight deflection off Mitchell.
As neither side were unable to make the difference for the remainder of the contest – it was evenly poised for a nerve-wracking shootout.
Dale Pearson converted the opening spot-kick for Benfield before Nathan Fisher watched his effort expertly saved by Grainger.
Bland’s heroics saw him crucially deny Noble and Holmes as Mitchell, Snaith and Denver Morris all converted for West with ease.
With Brayson making no mistake – all eyes were on Colquhoun and the former Bishop Auckland and Gateshead midfielder kept his cool to wrong-foot Grainger and spark jubilant scenes to claim a first League Cup title since 1963 and finish off the 2018/19 campaign unbeaten in nine matches.
Newcastle Benfield – Grainger, Evans, Martin, Turnbull (c), Thompson, Robson, Noble, Slaughter, Brayson, Orrell, Knight
Subs – Pearson, Holmes, Novak, Parker, Elliott
West Auckland – Bland, Mitchell, Price, Cobain, Hunter, Portas (Colquhoun, 66), Hegarty (Fisher, 55), Dodds (c), Purewal, Snaith, Francis (Morris, 83)
Subs not used – Burnicle, Coulson
Referee – James Bancroft
Attendance – 472
Report by Harry Crowe
Picture by Andy Mitchell